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Saint Vincent and Highmark Announce New Program that Can Help Save the Lives of Cardiac Arrest Victims

Monday, March 26, 2018

Nine northern tier counties in Pennsylvania to introduce novel smartphone app that can help bring CPR and AEDs to cardiac arrest victims faster 

Erie, PA  - Officials from Saint Vincent and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield today announced that a new life-saving program, called PulsePoint, will be coming to nine northern tier counties in Pennsylvania. 

PulsePoint is a smartphone app that alerts CPR-trained citizens that a cardiac event is taking place in their vicinity so they may administer aid until an emergency responder arrives. 

PulsePoint also provides users with an active display of all Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in the District. Citizens can use the separate PulsePoint AED app to report and update AED locations so that emergency responders, including nearby citizens trained in CPR and off-duty professionals such as firefighters, police officers and nurses can find an AED close to them when a cardiac emergency occurs. 

Saint Vincent Hospital, led by emergency physician Jestin Carlson, MD, helped secure a $50,000 grant for the PulsePoint technology from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. The grant includes $10,000 for implementation of the application in the northern tier region and $40,000 to maintain a PulsePoint license for five years in Erie County. 

Eight additional counties will also have access to Pulse Point for a one year period, thanks to a $10,000 grant from EMS West. Those counties include Elk, Cameron, McKean, Jefferson, Clarion, Forest, Warren, and Crawford. 

The first phase of the PulsePoint program is to launch the AED locator technology, according to Dr. Carlson.  “Saint Vincent is seeking the public’s help in identifying as many AEDs located in public places as possible,” he said  “Once we upload all the AED locations, anyone with the app will be able to access that list and it will help them to get their hands on an AED quickly.”

Saint Vincent has launched a contest to see which area resident can identify the most AEDs in public places. The winner will be awarded an AED, donated by Cardiac Science Corporation , to in turn donate to the organization of their choice. Those participating in the contest simply need to download the Pulse Point application and submit the location of AEDs on the app.  Contestants can begin identifying AEDs immediately. The winner will be announced in July 2018. 

Once the AEDs are identified, hospital staff will verify the location and make sure the AEDs are operational.  There will be a process in place to alert the owner of the AED of the appropriate contacts if updates are needed. 

During phase 2 of the program, each county will begin sending alerts through the app when a citizen experiences a cardiac event. This implementation will occur on different timelines in each community throughout the coming months.

“Early application of bystander CPR and rapid defibrillation from an AED have proven to be crucial in improving a person’s chance of surviving sudden cardiac arrest (SCA),” Dr. Carlson said. “PulsePoint is not limited to emergency responders. It can be used by anyone who has been trained in CPR.”

The latest AHA guidelines state that community programs like PulsePoint are critical to  increase bystander CPR for the roughly 326,000 cardiac arrests that happen outside the hospital each year. Currently, only about one-third of SCA victims receive bystander CPR with national survival rates less than 8 percent. However, effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after SCA, can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival.

“Saint Vincent is proud to be a part of the PulsePoint team in northwest Pennsylvania because we know how valuable the minutes are between cardiac arrest and the moment first responders arrive,” said Saint Vincent president Chris Clark, DO, MHA. “On behalf of everyone involved, I would like to offer our thanks to Highmark and EMS West for their  generous support of this program.”

Dr. Clark noted that Saint Vincent’s Project Heart Start program has helped place more than 200 AEDs throughout the community, offering discounted pricing for both AEDs and providing training on use of the AEDs. 

According to Nina Ferraro, Lead Analyst for Highmark Community Affairs, the PulsePoint app is free, available for both iPhone and Android, and can be downloaded from the iTunes Store and Google Play.

“By directly alerting those who are qualified to provide CPR and happen to be located nearby, PulsePoint is able to put the right people in the right place at the right time,” said Ferraro.  “Highmark is excited about the significant impact this novel program will have in improving patient outcomes from cardiac arrest in the many communities of northern tier of Pennsylvania.”

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